#Betting101: Speculating an NBA March Madness 1-16

Sunday, March 4, 2018 8:03 PM UTC

Sunday, Mar. 4, 2018 8:03 PM UTC

Should the NBA front office ditch the conference format for the postseason? The basketball odds might not change much if they adopted a 1-16 seeding structure.

NBA: #Betting101

NBA commissioner Adam Silver had some interesting things to discuss last month during his annual State of the Union address at the All-Star break. Among them was a potential change to the playoff format. There has been plenty of talk over the years about scrapping the East-West structure and letting the top 16 teams into the postseason. Silver didn’t go quite that far; he floated sticking with eight teams from each conference, but re-seeding them 1-16 once the playoffs begin.

This would be a pretty big step for the league. But would it really change anything? Let’s exercise our #Betting101 skills by imagining how this year’s playoffs would look under this new hypothetical system, then gauge how it would affect the NBA odds for winning the title.

Sweet Sixteen

For this exercise, we’re using the NBA standings heading into Sunday’s action. Here’s how the first round would look under a 1-16 system:

No. 1 Houston Rockets vs. No. 16 Miami Heat
No. 2 Golden State Warriors vs. No. 15 Milwaukee Bucks
No. 3 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 14 Denver Nuggets
No. 4 Boston Celtics vs. No. 13 Philadelphia 76ers
No. 5 Portland Trail Blazers vs. No. 12 Indiana Pacers
No. 6 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. No. 11 Oklahoma City Thunder
No. 7 Minnesota Timberwolves vs. No. 10 San Antonio Spurs
No. 8 New Orleans Pelicans vs. No. 9 Washington Wizards

The obvious takeaway here, as you might have suspected, is that the Rockets and Warriors would have an easier time getting through the first round. They’d get to play the worst of the playoff qualifiers, who happen to be from the Eastern Conference: the Heat and Bucks, respectively, instead of the Nuggets and Thunder. Golden State is already too chalky for our NBA picks at -175 on the futures market at Bovada, but Houston is a compelling choice at +350. Those odds would probably shorten under this 1-16 system.

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if the raptors make the finals i will drink an entire bottle of maple syrup

— Muskan (@mjawandz11) March 4, 2018

Someone has to come out a loser here, and that someone is Toronto. The Raptors are the top seed in the East right now would play Miami in the first round. Using this format, they’d end up with the Nuggets instead.

I’m surprised Mr. Silver hasn’t already announced the change. Otherwise, there’s hardly any difference in the records between the 5-13 teams on this list, so rather than heal the rift between the two conferences, this system would only make life easier for the West. The rich will get richer, as usual.

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